Exclusive: Heroin addicts to be given free foil to help them kick their habit

New law a ‘positive step’ in reducing number of lives ruined by drugs

Deputy Political Editor

Heroin addicts are to be given free foil - to heat up the drug - in an effort to help them kick the habit and cut the risk of contracting disease, the Government will announce tomorrow.

They will be offered the foil to encourage them to inhale, rather than inject, class A substances, as part of programmes to tackle their addiction.

Addicts use aluminium foil to warm heroin and breathe in its fumes in a practice nicknamed “chasing the dragon”. Substances such as crystal meth and cocaine can be inhaled in the same way.

Critics will raise questions over any move that enables drug users to maintain their habit, but the independent Advisory Council on the Misuse of Drugs (ACMD) concluded last year that offering foil can help an addict’s eventual recovery.

Providing aluminium foil is safer than addicts buying “tin foil” used in cooking as that contains vegetable oil which can be toxic when breathed in.

Health experts also argue that smoking heroin stops users contracting blood-borne viruses like HIV and hepatitis B through shared needles, cuts damage to veins and soft tissue and reduces the risk of overdose.

Video: Clegg argues an attitude to drug prevention is needed

An order will be laid in Parliament on Friday to sweep away the ban on health professionals issuing free foil on the condition that it is provided within programmes to tackle addiction.

The change in the law, which currently prohibits the supply of “articles to be used for the preparation or consumption of illicit drugs”, will come into force next month. It will apply both to the National Health Service and privately run treatment centres.

Norman Baker, the Crime Prevention Minister, said the available evidence shows that providing foil did not encourage drug use, but spurred addicts to get help.

“By allowing foil to be legally provided by healthcare professionals we are taking another positive step in reducing the number of individuals, families and communities whose lives are destroyed by drugs,” the Lib Dem minister told The Independent.

“The decision was made on the condition that it is part of structured efforts to get individuals off drugs and will minimise the risk of spreading viruses like HIV, while encouraging more addicts to engage with support services.

“It is also part of a range of work the coalition government is doing to reduce and prevent illegal drug use – helping dependent individuals through treatment, educating young people about the risks and supporting law enforcement in tackling the illicit trade.”

The move comes amid signs that use of the most addictive substances is falling, particularly in younger age groups, among whom heroin use has fallen out of fashion as they switch to party drugs.

However, recent figures suggest almost 300,000 people in England still use heroin and crack cocaine, with 529 deaths in England and 46 in Wales in 2012 linked to heroin.

Steve Rolles, senior policy analyst at Transform, the drugs policy charity, said: “It is much safer to be smoking heroin than injecting it. This is a sensible harm reduction intervention when you are trying to get people to transition from a more dangerous way of using heroin to a less dangerous way.”

The ACMD had been examining the case for providing foil for since 2009. Twelve months ago it called for the move to take place, a recommendation that was accepted by the Home Secretary Theresa May.

She approved its conclusions as long as foil is “only offered by drug treatment providers as part as part of structured efforts to get individuals into treatment, on the road to recovery and off of drugs”.

Voices
Hunted: A stag lies dead on Jura, where David Cameron holidays and has himself stalked deer
voicesThe Scotland I know is becoming a playground for the rich
News
newsMcKamey Manor says 'there is no escape until the tour is completed'
News
people'When I see people who look totally different, it brings me back to that time in my life'
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
newsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
ebooksAn unforgettable anthology of contemporary reportage
News
news
News
people

Britain First criticised for using actress's memory to draw attention to their 'hate-filled home page'

Arts and Entertainment
A photograph taken by David Redferm of Sonny Rollins
people
News
news

Emergency call 'started off dumb, but got pretty serious'

Extras
indybest
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

£40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

£30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

£35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

Senior Research Fellow in Gender, Food and Resilient Communities

£47,334 - £59,058 per annum: Coventry University: The Centre for Agroecology, ...

Day In a Page

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker